Preserving Peaches

Logan couldn’t wait to try our canned peaches

This summer I’m learning how to preserve.

Scratch that. I’m learning to test the strength of my marriage.

…or maybe both.

Home canned goods really do taste like summer, completely different from grocery store “fresh” or canned produce. And I just couldn’t bear to think of going all winter before having this fantastic food on my plate again, so I dug out my canning supplies from the depths of my craft room, convinced Matt that it was cool to blow the grocery budget buying a few hundred canning jars because “they’re an investment,” and begged my friend Tesia to let me help her family can a year’s worth of tomato products so I could get some hands-on learning experience while surrounded by four other, very experienced, women. “Helping” at Tesia’s (read: getting in the way) was genius because it let me leave the mess at her place and come home with a few jars of fresh salsa and the delusion that I could somehow pull this off, all by myself.

Eleventy-million canning jars, ready for salsa, spaghetti sauce, and trouble.

Less than a week later I snagged a bushel of peaches from our favorite local orchard and thought, “I’ll just can these after dinner…”

Starting the process at 6:30pm on a school night was probably one of the dumbest things I’ve ever done, right up there next to…well, no. It is officially the dumbest thing I’ve ever done.

So I made Matt help me. As you can see, he was thrilled.

It was kind of a mess. And I learned a lot, like that despite the appearance of an enormous collection of mixing bowls, I do not in fact have enough. Never enough. Also? Fresh peach juice looks an awful lot like blood at 1am.

And an ice bath after boiling the peaches for 30 seconds is really, really important. Cold water isn’t good enough; it’s gotta be ice with a little water or you end up with a half bushel of post-apocalyptic mush.

And it takes an hour to even reach a boil in the canner on this particular stove…an hour which should not, under any circumstances, be spent arguing with your spouse about who should clean up this crime scene of a kitchen…it should totally be him.

But, like childbirth, the more time passes the less traumatic the experience seems to be and the more willing you are to do it again. So here I am, two weeks later and thinking that yes, yes I would like to can another bushel of fresh peaches.

They look really good for seconds

I got a bushel of seconds–the peaches that have a bruise or bug bite or something–for $13. How could I not want to do this again?

Oh. Right.

Uh….well….

It made Logan Happy, See?

So it’s totally worth it.

Plus it’s always easier the second time, right?

…right? RIGHT?!?

I would suggest following my friend Karma’s blog for good step-by-step instructions you can use to supplement the Ball Book recipe and method.  I’m going to use the Ball book next time, but this time I used a non-USDA approved method and recipe from simplebites.net (Disclaimer: It goes against the USDA guidelines, use at your own risk and before embarking on a non-USDA approved canning recipe/method do some research and make sure you’re comfortable with its possible risks and have updated your will.).

And here’s the finished product…

I used the cold-pack method, which just adds room-temp water and sugar to the peaches and then processes them instead of making boiling sugar syrup and pouring it over the peaches before processing. It’s the method my grandmother used, too.

…not as pretty as theirs, but it will be next time.

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